Opinions Matter: A native Fullertonian says Fullerton is in crisis. His view on the split that is dividing the town.
For a period of time I knew the man six Fullerton officers killed last July. His name was Kelly Thomas and I liked him. As I was walking to my car in the Fullerton Ralphs shopping center, a man, when seeing my "Justice for Kelly" button, said to me that if I cared this much about Kelly when he was alive, he would still be alive. I was pretty baffled at that statement, but then I saw the “NO RECALL! FULLERTON IS NOT FOR SALE” sticker on the back of this big boy's Jazzy Jeff scooter and it all made imperfect sense. “Hey brother," I yelled, "just because you …..” That’s as far as I got before I knew it was not worth it. Besides, you don’t look very dignified yelling at someone who is relegated to a scooter.
I know that Kelly was loved by his family, and I know that Kelly was welcome to stay at any number of relatives' homes, and for periods of time, he did. I know what six of our police officers did to him, and I know how Dick Jones, Don Bankhead and Pat McKinley, the three councilmen now facing a recall, reacted publically to his death. Their lack of urgency, their lack of outrage, and the insensitive treatment to Kelly’s family, after what in my mind may be the most shameful 10 minutes in this city’s history, rises well beyond what even I expected from these three men. I’ve witnessed their disdain for the victim and his supporters firsthand at many council meetings. I witnessed it again watching TV interviews, where their ignorance was broadcast across the county. These old mens' desperate need for order trumped any need for truth. They lied and tried to spin the story at every opportunity, at times to ridiculous proportions. Dick Jones even tried to diminish Kelly’s injuries by saying he had seen worse in Vietnam. When the DMZ becomes the go-to reference point for downtown Fullerton, we have a serious problem. In light of this, the “NO RECALL! FULLERTON IS NOT FOR SALE” signs mean nothing to me.
The recall is happening, the election is scheduled, and the candidates have already turned in their papers and chosen which of these three men to oppose. Fullerton’s status as a marketable commodity to be sold, as these signs and stickers claim, have nothing at all to do with this recall. The purpose of the anti-recall campaign, like any Orwellian tactic, begins and ends at deflection -- deflecting, perhaps, that thanks in great part to Jones and Bankhead, Fullerton was sold to out-of-town developers, and the police union, Jones and Bankhead's core support, years ago. These signs perfectly reflect how out of touch and moronic the folks being the anti-recall effort are ….they are in fact stupid, desperate, insensitive and sad, and they need to be forced into permanent and shamed retirement.
The councilmen who are under threat of recall are incompetent to lead. They actually paid consultants to come up with the "no recall" tactic, when most of Fullerton did not even know that there was a recall. All they did was drive more signature to the recall tables. The anti-recall folks prove daily that they govern their own defense as they do our city, by raining down misery. Thousands of prepaid "rescind your recall signature" postcards were mailed to Fullerton residents requesting those of us who signed the recall ballots that we have a reversal of mind. To date, these efforts resulted in only 145 of each candidate’s 20,000 recall signatures being rescinded. Not only did this failed effort alert thousands more that there even was a recall under way, but these incompetents actually ended up paying for the postage that let hundreds of us use the opportunity to tell them what we really think! (see one of the more polite cards I revised at the time, which I have attached). More importantly, the no-recall gang has demonstrated why the recall is necessary. They are just unfit for anything. Consequently, you will not find any signs this political season that say "VOTE NO ON THE RECALL IF YOU THINK FULLERTON IS BETTER THAN EVER." Irony does not win elections.
Fullerton is in a crisis and Bankhead, Jones and McKinley made it so. I sat at a council meeting one night as dozens of local citizen risked all, walked to the podium, and with great emotion shared in front of a mostly unmoved council, and on camera, how they in various ways they had suffered abuse and been mistreated by the Fullerton PD. Humiliating, dehumanizing and brutal things were testified to by dozens of speakers from all walks of life. Women especially seemed to have had horrible experiences with our police. Dick, Pat and Don looked bored, gazing back at each of them from their perch with expressions of scorn. Most of these speakers had previously filed complaints, but not one had received resolution. Most complaints had not even been acknowledged. In fact, this year, when Tony Rackauckas, the Orange County District Attorney, filed criminal charges against two of the officers involved in Kelly’s death, it was the first time charges against any on-duty officer for mistreating a suspect or witness had every been criminally filed in the more than 100-year history of Orange County court system. What is their response to this? “Fullerton Is Not For Sale”?
Clearly, McKinley, who built the department for 16 years before retiring to his spot on the council, is the biggest villain in this whole affair. Chief Sellers, the now disgraced and retired police chief at the time of Kelly’s murder, went on medical leave just as the press took interest, and that makes him the biggest coward. Police spokesperson Goodrich, who has still not retracted the lies he continued to report for months to the press about Kelly Thomas, is the biggest liar. Don Bankhead is the biggest nothing, and Dick Jones is the biggest steaming pile of Dick Jones any of us have ever stepped in. Thanks to these men, Fullerton finds itself under constant threat of protests, bad press, huge settlements, economic instability, dangerous cops and a blanket of puke every Sunday morning after the out-of-town partiers head back to Riverside. This is their legacy.
It was on their watch that Kelly Thomas was beaten to death for 10 solid minutes. A brutal 10-minute beating is different than a cop negligently shooting an innocent victim with a poor split-second reaction. What they did to Kelly is equivalent, in decision and reaction time, to 5,000 accidental shootings. It must be have been f***ing tiring to beat anyone that long, but these were monsters and they kept going. Bankhead, Jones and McKinley helped create this monster, and they cowered when the monster got off its leash. That is why I not only signed the recall papers; that is why I got others to do so as well.
At every opportunity, former police captain and current councilman Bankhead, former police chief and current councilman McKinley, and former med school student and current village idiot Dick Jones have had exactly the wrong insensitive impulses. From my perspective, whoever the replacement councilmembers are, good or bad in terms of policy, they will not already be on record for choosing the bloody nightsticks of murdering police officers over a scared, defenseless victim whose last moments on this planet were spent crying out for his father’s help as their brutality continued. These three councilmen are unfit as humans and unfit as leaders, their reaction speaks to who they are, and they need to be retired in disgrace.
If your politics lean to the left as mine do, and you are not voting for the recall for fear that the replacements may be worse, you are the political version of a battered wife. Name one single issue where Bankhead, Jones and McKinley have voted in your interest. Coyote Hills, big development projects, preservation zones, library hours and park funding -- they always vote the wrong way. They already have us 3-2 and 4-1, depending on the issue. They even have us 5-0 when Quirk plays it safe. Don’t you get it? We have nothing to lose, something to gain, and most importantly, it’s the right thing to do. That right-wing ghost you fear can only vote Yay or Nay, not Extra Yay and Really Nay.
So in response to the dozen or so people in town who have these “NO RECALL! FULLERTON IS NOT FOR SALE” signs on their lawns, and the at-least one "NO RECALL" scooter man, I have news for you lot: Fullerton was sold 20 years ago to the same people you are defending now, and the recall is how we pay for this city’s emancipation. If you don’t get that, I’ll assume it’s because they own your ass too.
I’m voting for Jane Rands in the next election and learning as much as I can about the other candidates. I suggest you do the same.